Over recent months there has been much discussion about the Crammer and the wildlife that uses it. Whilst there is no question that everyone wants what is best for the area, not surprisingly, there are different views on how this should be achieved. In terms of the water quality, following sampling and testing of both the water and the silt layer below the water, a report raised no concerns about water or silt contamination, the report also noted that results from the new investigation undertaken in late 2022 does not reflect any significant elevation of contamination levels compared to the previous 2008 investigation results, which generally showed low concentration levels of potential contaminants within the groundwater. In terms of wildlife, with the high threat of avian flu infection in wildfowl, my advice will remain the same in that caution should be taken at all times. Bird flu mostly spreads from bird to bird through contact with infected saliva, nasal secretions or droppings and that threat greatly increases where the birds come together, therefore feeding birds outside of the water significantly increases the risk of transfer. Swans will find enough food in the wild without supplementary feeding and they will graze grassy fields and can survive quite successfully in a field of short-cropped grass such as the Green. One important aspect of the area that must not be overlooked is its heritage value and to help us better understand that we are talking to organisations such as the Trust for Devizes and St James’ Church. It is hoped that later in the spring, the Council will undertake wider consultation with residents about the future of the Crammer and people will then have a chance to have their say on some options.
In terms of wider biodiversity of the town, I recently sat in on one of our Greening Working Party meetings to see what progress is being made and there is a really exciting project in Oamaru Way to transform an area of open grass into a wildlife garden that the whole community can enjoy. This opened up a wider debate about biodiversity and whilst it’s great that we create these wildlife pockets, what is equally important is how they are linked, not just to one another but to the town’s rural hinterland. For this, we as a council need to think about how we promote greater biodiversity within our own managed portfolio of open spaces and work to develop a framework in partnership with other land owners to improve wildlife connectivity through linked green infrastructure. This is no small task and could easily be put on the “too difficult to do” pile, but we recognise that this work will help halt the loss of wildlife habitat, improve biodiversity within the town’s urban environment and will contribute to health and wellbeing of our community, so is too important to ignore.
You may recall a few weeks ago I mentioned that following the untimely death of Councillor Jane Burton before Christmas, it was likely that there would be a byelection. That election has now been called and will be on Thursday 30th March for East Ward residents. If you have ever thought of becoming a Councillor, there is now an opportunity, but you will have to get your skates on. Nomination papers must be hand delivered to the Returning Officer, at ,County Hall, no later than 4pm on Friday 3rd March 2023. Nomination papers can be collected from County Hall or by telephoning Electoral Services on 0300 4560112. Why not have a go..!
Town Clerk, Simon Fisher.